Putting the Best In Your Fruit Bowl
A nectarine is essentially a peach without the fuzz. The skin is smooth and glossy, often appearing more red than a peach, but the flesh is similar, either yellow or white. Whether you like peaches or nectarines is down to personal preference, but a good nectarine should be as satisfying as a good peach. If there are differences in flavour between the two, it is because, over the years, there have been separate breeding programmes to produce new varieties.
Nectarine quality is somewhat variable in the experience of many people, often frustratingly so. This partly due to the swift and bewildering change from one variety to another through a season, which means consistency of eating quality is difficult to maintain. However, weather conditions also play a significant part, and the maturity of fruit at harvest has a big influence.
It is tricky to give absolute advice about nectarine eating quality, but we will try our best as the peak times of the season are often the most interesting. However, at many times of the season you get what you pay for: the more expensive supermarkets definitely lead on eating quality as they are aware that a better job can be done.
Nectarines are still on sale from Chile as well as South Africa. The varieties being used are late season types, so will have good flavour and sweetness, but will be quite dense rather than having the light, succulent, juicy flesh of the earlier fruit.
Nectarine Varieties sold in UK: March August Red Chile March Red Gem Chile March September Glo Chile March Supa August Chile April Arctic Snow Chile April Atlas Snow Morocco April August Glo Chile April August Red Spain April Magnum Fire Chile April Sun Red Morocco April Sun Rite Egypt April Vio White Spain May Atlas … Read More »
In The Stores: Picking a good tasty nectarine every time is a difficult job, even for a seasoned supermarket technologist. The best nectarines are ripened on the tree and sold in the local market the next day – but in our summer, you have to be on holiday in the Med. for that pleasure! So how do you get the best in your fruit bowl? Here are some tips:
At Home: Nectarines for UK stores are usually picked a little immature so they last the journey from the orchards. If a nectarine has been picked at the right time, it should ripen in your fruit bowl, even if it is quite hard when bought.
Description: The nectarine is a fleshy, juicy, round fruit with a large hard-shelled stone and a smooth soft skin. The flesh is either yellow or whitish and is sweet with a delicate flavour. The nectarine tree is deciduous with distinctive elongated leaves.
Technically, nectarines are a type of peach, but are generally marketed separately and now have their own breeding programmes.
Species: Prunus persica var. nectarina
Origin: Peaches are native to China, and although not mentioned in English historical records until the 17th century, nectarines will probably have existed as long as peaches because they are a natural derivative of the peach tree.
Storage: Nectarines are a delicate fruit prone to bruising, and will ripen quickly at ambient temperatures (providing it has not been picked too soon). Storage in cool temperatures, down to 1oC, is therefore very important to allow time for marketing.
Grown in: Nectarines tend to be grown in Mediterranean climatic zones with cold winters and consistent hot summers. They are less cold-tolerant than peaches, hence being less common in the temperate peach-growing areas.
South Africa: Beginning November to mid-March (peak weeks in mid January)
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